Year in Review (Reading) 2016
Having just completed my year-end review for writing, I can also see why I may’ve not produced as much this year: I’ve read a whole helluva lot more. Compared to last year’s count—52 books, pretty much one a week—this year I’ve already put down 75 and by the time this post comes up I’ll probably be at 80 or more.
At first, I was saddened by even this count. 80 books—what’s to be sad at? Well, if you look around at other people’s counts, they have a lot more. Some are at 200. That is beyond reasoning for me, but then I thought about it. If you look at their reading list, there’s a lot of the same old themes and genres, not a lot of variation. So in that way, I’m not too disheartened with my list.
With that in mind—genre and all—my list this year shifted quite a bit. In the beginning, I dove straight into a lot of YA. Here is where I saw how some bloggers are able to rake up such large numbers. Even when the books ranged in close to the 500-page mark, I was swallowing them down within two days. How? They stories were weak and easily predictable. Frankly, my brain didn’t have to work hard. Theses stories are bubble gum for thoughts, and for this reason, very few rank high in my regard.
Out of all the horrible YA I read this year the one author I have become a fan of is Rainbow Rowell. Her ‘Eleanor and Park’ and then ‘Fan Girl’ were simply written but unbelievably endearing. In her own way, she’s made YA tolerable, and if not for the Harry Potter like premise of her new one, ‘Carry On,’ I’d be more tempted to read it. Who knows? Maybe in 2017.
Out of the other books I’ve read, I tackled my large tome this year: Gaddis’ Recognitions. It was quite a piece of work. I started it in late March, just after the start of the semester, and got it done mid-June, just in time for the semester to end. It was exhausting, and like Jonathon Frazen said about it—and I would have to agree—it is one of the hardest books I’ve had to read. It is so thick with details and overrun with characters, but still many parts were scintillating.
I also tackled quite a bit on my TBR—both the real and electronic forms. I have roughly 9 left and growing on my actual shelf, while about a dozen are on my kindle. I hope to tackle them and add some new ones this upcoming year.
I think the biggest thing that has come out of my reading is that I’ve seen what books are out there. I don’t know if this is a good thing. Many of today’s options don’t rile my feathers, really. They seem lacking and weak. I read a few award winners and all-time favorites from fellow readers and could not understand what all the adoration was about. Some had beautiful writing, but suck for story. In fact, that was the best I could hope for. Others didn’t even have the writing.
I’m not sure what this malaise says about me or about the modern fare when it comes to stories. Sometimes I think there is less demand for quality from readers and watchers. We’ve become complacent with the same stories masqueraded before us, or quite possibly any writer now worthy of a name had made it there by pure chance—the luck of catching the world’s attention. Or maybe I am asking for too much. There are some fundamentals that never change. Either way, there’s this eerie, blurry disillusionment that comes with it all. From there, I don’t know where to go. I hope eventually it will be easier to see.